How to Know When It's Time to End Your Marriage

by Kristina Barroso ; Updated December 18, 2017

Marriage may be intended as a lifelong commitment, but sometimes even the best of intentions can’t prevent some marriages from falling apart at the seams. The decision to end a marriage should never be taken lightly, but if the marriage has become unhealthy and attempts to repair it have been unsuccessful, divorce may be your best option. But before you head for your nearest divorce lawyer, turn your attention inward and do some honest introspection to determine whether or not your marriage is truly a lost cause.

Do You and Your Spouse Respect Each Other?

Respect is an essential ingredient within a healthy marriage, and it has to work both ways. When you respect your spouse, you take each other’s opinions into consideration, you consult each other on big decisions and you speak to and treat each other with kindness and compassion. When a couple loses respect for each other, they might start insulting each other, belittling each other, making big decisions without consulting each other or simply treating each other unkindly. It’s normal for couples to have bad days and make mistakes here and there, but if your spouse frequently disrespects you or makes you feel bad about yourself on a regular basis, it could be a sign that your marriage is in serious trouble.

Do You and Your Spouse Enjoy Physical and Emotional Intimacy?

A healthy and satisfying sex life is an important part of a healthy marriage, but there is more to it than the bedroom. Intimacy sets marriage apart from other close relationships, which is why developing and maintaining a strong sense of both physical and emotional intimacy is so vital to a marriage’s potential for long-term survival. You and your spouse must both make an ongoing effort to connect with each other and maintain a certain level of closeness. Check in with each other frequently to make sure that both of your needs are being met in the bedroom and beyond it. Your sex life should be fulfilling for both you and your spouse, and you should be physically connecting in other ways on a regular basis too, like holding hands, kissing, caressing or touching each other. Beyond the physical, you and your spouse should talk to each other about meaningful things and enjoy spending time together. If the physical or emotional intimacy has started to fade away within your marriage and attempts to reconnect have not been successful, divorce may be looming on the horizon.

Do You and Your Spouse Communicate Effectively?

Without open, honest and ongoing communication, you won’t be able to foster mutual respect or maintain a strong connection with your spouse. Good communication means actively listening to your partner and expressing your own thoughts and feelings in appropriate and respectful ways. Disagreements are inevitable, but how you and your spouse handle conflict is usually a good indicator of how healthy your marriage is. Positive conflict resolution is all about seeing and respecting each other’s point of view and making a genuine effort to compromise whenever possible. If you and your spouse resort to shouting at each other or seem to keep fighting about the same things without ever coming to a reasonable resolution, you are not communicating effectively and could be jeopardizing the future of your marriage.

Is it Time to Call it Quits?

An unhealthy or toxic marriage is no place for anyone. If you have done everything in your power to repair your troubled marriage but nothing seems to be working or your spouse is not as motivated as you are to make the necessary changes, then it may be time to start planning your exit strategy. Think about consulting a therapist or a lawyer who can help guide you through the divorce process from an emotional and legal standpoint. Reach out to trusted friends and family members for support, and remember to be patient with yourself as you move on to the next chapter of your life.

About the Author

Kristina Barroso is a full-time teacher who has been freelance writing since 1991. She published her first book, a break-up survival guide, in 2007 and specializes in a variety of topics including, but not limited to, relationships and issues in education. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida International University.